Home parenting Witching hours: Why do children go crazy in the evenings?

Witching hours: Why do children go crazy in the evenings?

by Ines Wurbs

Almost all parents know it. After 4 p.m., our children turn up their energy. Even when they are already tired and worn out. This is surprising to many. Our children have often had just as much action as we had ourselves. 

This evening high is quite natural and can have the following reasons:

  • Our children are already “over it”. So, they are already very exhausted and should have gone to bed long ago.
  • The day was very exciting and is now being processed.
  • They are underutilized

But there is a remedy for every situation. Read more about it here. Reasons why children “freak out” at night and what you can do about it!

Small children and kindergarten children, in particular, can really turn up the heat in the evening hours. There can be a variety of reasons for this. The following chapters show the main reasons for these “freaks”.

Our children are already exhausted

There can be a variety of reasons why our children are exhausted or even overtired. Some reasons for this are for example:

  • The children had a lot of physical exertion.
  • They played a lot.
  • The children talked a lot.
  • It was a long and tiring day in kindergarten.

It’s not their bedtime yet, but it’s mostly in the evenings. 1-2 hours before bedtime. On some days, these hours are simply too much for our children. Their brain is tired and tries to avoid this tiredness with a kind of “last effort” by moving and talking too much. It is a balancing function of our body. However, our children can keep going for a long time even when they are drained.

This is why this time is also referred to as “witching hours”.

This is how your child can come to rest in the evening

We should take this tiredness as a signal to tuck our children into bed. Even if it’s not their usual bedtime yet. Try to prepare your child by giving an age-appropriate indication of when it is bedtime. For example: “5 more minutes, then we go to sleep” or “Finish the game, and then we go to sleep”.

I know the problem from myself. Especially in the evenings, I still have a lot to do, and it happens to me that I overlook my children’s signs of tiredness. If it’s the same with you, try to consciously pay attention to your child’s signals. Leave your open work temporarily and put your child to bed first.

If your child is often overexcited in the evenings, you might consider moving the bedtime forward. More in this article.

Underutilized children

Depending on what your children are used to, the amount and type of activities may vary. But in general, children of all ages should exercise in the fresh air every day.

Our children are born with the joy of movement. It’s us parents who can break this habit. Our children might not want to go out. However, they are usually very enthusiastic about it. Use this natural behavior from an early age. Then the joy of exercise will last for a long time and become part of your everyday life.

The food our children eat also has an influence here. Of course, too much sugar is bad for your health. But it also provides our children with energy. Too much sugar thus creates an excess of energy, which then of course has to be broken down somehow.

Fun Fact

A 2019 study found no evidence of the existence of a sugar flash. Many parents (myself included) probably doubt that. Link to the study.

Tips to let your child relax in the evening

Afternoon or evening is therefore a rather unfavorable time for an additional energy boost. It typically lasts into the evening. If it is coupled with a lot of effort or excitement, the chaos is complete and of course, it puts even more strain on our parents’ nerves.

It was a very exciting day

It was one of those days when everyone thinks: today the children have to fall into bed like stones. It is precisely these days that our children are seemingly particularly resistant to fatigue.

Basically, they are very exhausted. There is only so much going on in your brain because all the exciting experiences naturally want to be classified and processed. Our children learn through experience. So, our children had experiences that were not commonplace for them. This is the way they learn, and they learn a lot, especially at a young age.

Sometimes we adults don’t notice it that much. A visit from acquaintances who are strangers to our children is often not so spectacular for us. But maybe for our children. A stranger in your home is probably not everyday life for them. In addition, they will experience the following changes:

  • They don’t get the usual attention from mom and dad.
  • Parents expect them to behave differently.
  • The children have to overcome themselves and are perhaps nervous.

There are many small causes that we typically do not consider to be so exciting at first glance. For our children, however, these can sometimes be very exciting. And then of course there are the more obvious days like going to the movies, going to an amusement park, or going to a party.

By the way, watching a lot of television is also exciting for our children and causes stress. However, this stress is difficult to compensate for our kids. This also leads to anxiety, according to a study by the American Academy of Pediatrics. You can do this when your child is hyper

The more your children are used to, the more resistant they are to stress. So, not everything is as exciting for them as it is for children with less experience. But of course, there will always be exciting days for our children. That’s good and important. All the better, of course, if the experiences are positive.

However, excitement and insecurity also arise from negative experiences. These can then also show up in restlessness in the evening. It’s critical to give your child more time to calm down on days like this. Occasionally, this is due to long car journeys. But when you are at home, try to create a calm atmosphere in the evenings and play calm games, paint or, for example, role-play with your child.

Helpful utensils & facilities to calm down

It is also good, to discuss the plan for the day in the morning. This takes away many uncertainties if you discuss the day with your child. A weekly or daily planner can help your child to understand and remember the individual points of the day.

It also helps some children if they have a place of retreat where they can play and deepen their knowledge all by themselves. Review the day together with your child. In this way, your child can better classify and save what has happened.

Again, lullabies are a great way to calm down. We have also used music boxes for children with lullabies. This helps to spread a little calming atmosphere before the bedtime ritual. In this way, the brain is prepared for the quieter sleep phase via the brain waves.

A cuddly toy can also be very helpful to create security and a ritual. It also has the advantage that it can also be taken to grandma’s, for example, if the child is sleeping somewhere else. This makes it easier for many children to calm down. We were able to have good experiences with white noise sleeping aids for babies. The white noise helps to calm down the kids.

Weighted blankets for children are also helpful to shut down the body and mind. I have used these therapy blankets very successfully in many years of my work with children, even in precarious situations. A pleasant “heaviness” has a calming effect on our children (caution: do not use on babies and pay attention to the instructions for use!).


You will not always be able to avoid these situations. But be prepared, and then try to accompany your child in such a way that it can relax again or recover through sleep. Just make the evening a little quieter. Try to respect your child’s boundaries as well as your own. Especially in the evening, we are usually already exhausted and we only long for rest.

Such situations are of course particularly stressful. However, it is up to you to try to change something. Keep in mind that your child is probably not doing it on purpose and wants to annoy you. There is a high probability that it is processing that stirs up your child. Take it as a signal to act and encourage your child to calm down.

You may also like